A list of things, making life possible

It has been a totally crazy week/month. I am now only 6 days out from a huge fundraiser gala, that I have been working on for all of the last year. The only way I’m keeping my sanity:

  • having a really kick ass assistant, who pushes back when I’m not being practical.
  • Giants winning NLDS. I wore an orange ribbon in my hair, while I ran errands all around the City yesterday. I could hear the cheers from various bars and homes all over.
  • Going to see Jordan Jesse Go! Live tonight, as part of the new SF Comedy and Burrito Festival.
  • Also! Getting to introduce new friends to JJGO & MaxFun tonight.
  • Adorable photos of my friends’ adorable tiny, new baby
  • Actually going to the gym/personal training, when normally I would let my work take over completely. (Sticking to my goals!)

  • This sky in San Bruno on Tuesday night
  • All of the great music that has come out in the last few weeks: Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Auto, the new Avett Brothers, the new Mountain Goats, the new Mumford & Sons.
  • Especially the Want it Back song and video by Amanda Palmer & GTO. (I still can’t get youtube to embed in a post… help?)
  • Going to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival this weekend

  • Dinner at Two Sisters Bar & Books, followed by Smitten ice cream
  • Gone Girl – goodness, what a book.
  • John Scalzi novels in audio book form
  • Slate Political Gabfest
  • Weekly round up emails with two good friends about all the Slate podcasts
  • New Fall TV – Have you seen Go On or the Neighbors? If not, you should, ASAP.
  • Knowing the season premiere of The League is on my DVR as soon as I can get to it.
  • jamming in a quick latte with Lysandra in the midst of the insanity, and having a serious Disneyland squee moment.
  • Bittersweet – drinks at the excellent Churchill bar, to say good-bye to Kate & Alex as the go on to their next adventures
  • All the Joe Biden gifs from last night’s debate.
  • And finally, that after next week, I get to go to Seattle. Very excited about that!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

July 2009, I get on BART after a day of development data entry at the Red Cross. I sit down, pull out my Sudoku and key up an AJ Jacobs audiobook. As I’m settling in, I notice a guy in his late-20s with a black “the Sound of Young America” (TSOYA) t-shirt. I had listened to this radio show/podcast a few times, so thought, neat. At this point, I only listened to a handful of podcasts and was always interested in finding new ones and meeting other fans. But, this is public transit, and I’m not going to strike up a conversation over a t-shirt.

At least not on a normal day, but this train ride was unusual. About 15 minutes into the normally 25 minute train ride, the BART train stops. We wait. And wait. And wait. At about 10 minutes into the waiting process, I give up on the puzzle and have made eye contact with the t-shirt guy. I comment on the shirt, and we end up having a five minute conversation about TSOYA and “Jordan, Jesse, Go!” It turns out he went to college with Jesse Thorn and recommended I dive deep into both shows. Then, finally, the train resumed and our conversation ended.

I am forever thankful to that random train ride. As my data entry job continued, I devoured the many excellent interviews and well curated comedy of TSOYA. And I fell in love with JJGO, a bantering comedy podcast also park of the Maximum Fun media empire. I began to support MaxFun with monthly donations in the spring of 2010, and continue to do to this day. I tell everyone I can, I go to live shows, and last year, to the wonderful MaxFunCon. So, yes, I’m a bit of a fan girl.

But I’m also someone who would not listen if the quality was not there. Thorn, who has many admirers in public radio and elsewhere, picks excellent and interesting guests across many genres of culture – he doesn’t differentiate between high and low and most importantly always has interesting questions that show he really dove into the work of his interview subject.

Today, TSOYA is rebranded as Bullseye with Jesse Thorn and you should listen immediately. The blurb says:

Bullseye is a public radio show about what’s good in popular culture. With a keen editorial eye, Bullseye sifts the wheat from the chaff, and brings you hot culture picks, in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary creative people and irreverent original comedy.

In the first 50 minute episode, Thorn talks to the AV Club, cast members from the amazing Downton Abbey, Chris Lilley (Australian comedian and creator of Summer Heights High), Dan Deacon (Baltimore musician) and Thorn’s love for E-40’s anthem “Fuck Them.” So if you like costume dramas, comedy, or rap music there is something for you. And the best part is, if you listen to Bullseye for the Downton Abbey chat, you can be easily pulled into the humor of Lilley or the compelling lyrics of a rap song that I, at least, would never have otherwise heard.

Of course, the bit with the cast of Downton was my favorite, so I’ve embedded that here for you. Bullseye Downton Abbey Interview

After you check out the new Bullseye, I recommend diving into the past episodes of TSOYA.Thorn and TSOYA introduced me to the great authors Colson Whitehead (Sag Harbor, Zone One) and Sarah Vowell (Wordy Shipmates, Assaination Vacation). He has great interviews with creaters I already loved from the Mountain Goats to Doctor Who cast members. And his year end comedy special (2011 here) are wonderful looks at brilliant pieces of standup and sketch and other comedy gems.

This is a quality radio production – an analysis of what doesn’t suck in the culture landscape. I love it, and think you would too.

If you are already a fan, what is your favorite episode of TSOYA? What are you hoping Bullseye will cover?

It couldn’t have happened anywhere but in little old New York.

Ok, so after four (great, crazy, stressful, long, wonderful) years, I am leaving New York and moving back to the Bay Area.

I have a little bit under 4 weeks to do everything I ever intended to do in the City (sure, I will visit, but that will be primarily to see friends and shows).

So, here is my bucket list (full of way more than I can accomplish, but it will be fun to try). If any of my NYC friends would like to join in on any of these adventures, let me know!

Before September 14th I would like to:

See these Shows:

  • Sleep No More (8/17)
  • Book of Mormon (9/11)
  • Assscat 3000
  • Bellhouse Music
  • Bellhouse Comedy show (Eugene Mirman?)
  • The Moth (8/29)
  • Carnegie Hall
  • David Letterman or Jimmy Fallon or Daily Show
  • movie at the Paris Theater

Visit these Sites and/or take Photos:

  • Morgan Library
  • United Nations
  • Morris Jummel
  • Grand Central – Whisper Gallery
  • High Line – new section, roller skating
  • Fraunces Tavern
  • Chelsea Hotel
  • White Horse Tavern
  • Algonquin Hotel – Round Table
  • East River Ferry
  • Bobby Wagner Walkway/Carl Schwarz (84th-90th)
  • Manhattan Bridge
  • Roosevelt Island
  • Governor’s Island
  • Little Red Lighthouse
  • Alan Ginsberg’s Stoop
  • African Burial Grounds
  • 520 Madison – Berlin Wall
  • Chrysler Lobby
  • Earth Room
  • rowboat on the Lake
  • Woodlawn Cemetery
  • read a book in the Rose Room reading room at the New York Public Library main branch
  • Housing Works Bookstore

Museums

  • 5 Pointz (Graffiti museum in Queens)
  • Cloisters
  • NY Panorama/Queens Museum
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Transit Museum
  • Met Museum – (Scavenger Hunt?)
  • Frick
  • New Museum
  • Museum of the City of New York or New York Historical Society
  • Socrates Sculpture Park

Food

  • One if By Land
  • WD50
  • Rare View (bar)
  • A Salt and Battery
  • Indian with KC

Last Night … Joan Rivers called me a….

This inducts a new, irregular series with my blog: “Last night…” which are usually started the night after a momentous occasion, but are definitely not finished/posted until much later.

More than a month since I last posted – bad blogger, bad!  To make up for it, here is a crazy long blog post, about an amazing birthday and an amazing lady.

~~~

When I left you, dear reader, I was in the throws of insanity for the big gala at work. That is now over, thank heaven.  Although day of, we had a few small fires (literally – candles and low hanging flowers don’t mix), it went really, really well and I was very proud of my work.

As soon as it was over, I think my brain just shut off for a little while. But by the end of March, work was picking back up again – we have another event in three weeks, so had to get cracking on that – and life got back to normal.

AND it was my birthday. Which was just absolutely great.
Generally, I don’t think I fall into girlie stereotypical roles. However, when it comes to my birthday, I def tend to make a huge deal out of it.  And I appreciate that my amazing friends helped to make this one kick ass.

At around, 3pm on the day I started the following post: Things that made my birthday great

– receiving an e-card at 12:01a and finding two birthday cards on the coffee table at 12:15a

– reading a new blog entry by Neil Gaiman

– reading Sarah Vowell’s new book, Unfamiliar Fishes, my birthday present to myself

– Attending the Gracie Mansion tour
(Robert Moses connection, actual canon ball from Revolutionary War, neat design – all around super awesome)

– Hysterical historical e-card (Presidents bickering and then wishing me a happy birthday)
As Kate said: Presidents+Birthdays+You= match made in heaven :)

– yummy semi-schmancy lunch with my boss

All of which were super awesome, but I had no idea what was coming next….

I have a tendency to be a super intense planner about all things, but especially about my birthday.  Well, this year things were a little different because in early February, I got a google calendar invitation to “Esca for Erin’s birthday” from Justin, with no explanation.  Turns out, my boys were not letting me plan my birthday. Instead, they were taking me to a fancy restaurant for dinner. And I was super excited.

At around 7pm, we leave Justin and Joe’s apartment.  I’m wearing heels because fancy dinner=heels, right?  And we walk from 48th to 43rd, where Esca is. Justin has to go to the bank, and I try to beg off the extra block, but he insists I  come with – and since the boys are paying, who am I to bitch?

We are bantering in the bank, and when we leave, all of a sudden instead of heading back to 43rd, Justin quickly makes a right and turns into this little restaurant, the West Bank Cafe. The boys have been kinda secretive about this whole night, so I am wondering what is going on, maybe we meeting people for drinks before dinner? But, we walk super quickly through the main restaurant, pass the bar, and down these steps into a little theater space… all the while, I am going… Um, what is happening?

After initially being seated in the middle of the room, the management moves us to the very front of the stage, at a four seater table. So, I’m sitting there, looking confused, as Joe, Justin and Robert all have these little smiles, but no answers. The name of the theater – Laurie Beechman – sounds super familiar, but I had never been there before, and the piano player tinkling the keys with the Great American Songbook is not a clue, either.

So, we sit and we eat. And I try to figure out what the hell is going on?

The rooms cliental is somewhat of a tell – older than most comedy clubs, mostly men, mostly gay.  I lean over to Robert, and say… “Is this Joan Rivers?” But he won’t answer and I don’t have confirmation for another 45 minutes, when the crew comes out and tapes down these huge white cards to the stage – which I know she uses for her stand up.

And then I am so excited!!

Why, you might ask? Why am I excited to see Joan Rivers? What a strange birthday present!

Growing up, Joan Rivers was just a Red Carpet talking head and a punch line about plastic surgery. I had no real connection to her at all.  However, over the course of the last few years, I have been getting more and more into comedy. And last summer, EVERYONE was raving about this documentary, Joan Rivers: a Piece of Work.  So, finally in early January, Joe, Robert and I sat down to watch it … and laughed our asses off.

She is brilliant! She is vulgar! And she has had an amazing history in comedy – including being Johnny Carson’s right-hand-woman for quite a long time on The Tonight Show.

I really loved it and loved her.  And the boys realized this, and came up with this amazing surprise for my birthday. (Apparently, they had been planning this for a long while, and shortly after they had purchased the tickets, I brought up seeing her do stand up. No one responded to my email, so I assumed it wouldn’t happen, but they had a whole plan to make sure I didn’t go before the night of the surprise.)

Just seeing her would’ve been amazing.  She was so funny, and made fun of everything under the sun.  However, no one could have expected how freakin’ cool it was to be sitting front row center for her performance.  First and foremost, we did get to see the crazy plastic surgery up close.

But much more importantly, about two minutes into the set, she looks down at me and goes “What? A woman sitting here? How did you get this seat?” I shrug helplessly, and she continues, “This is for my prime fans… its for the gays.” So, I kinda mumble and gesture at my fellows at the table.  She looks at them, nods, and says, “Oh good. Keep the gays as your friends. You may end up lonely, but you always be happy…and well decorated.”

Not that long after that, she comments on my breasts, and asks if I am a tranny. When I say they are real she recommends marrying old and rich and using them to smother my husband in order to quickly inherit. What do you do when Joan Rivers makes fun of you???  I laughed, and smiled, and felt this incredible joy of watching someone who is sooooo good at what they do, make their art. (After, while rehashing all the humor, we also discussed laughing at non-PC things, and how her level of absurdity and how nothing was sacred made it seem ok. Whether it is, is another question.)

Seriously, our table and especially me, ended up being made fun of for solid 8 minutes of her hour set.

And I couldn’t have been happier.

(Well, until the next part of my birthday surprise, but that will have to be a different post)

For now, I will leave you with a little humor from Ms. Rivers.  I hope you laugh as hard as I did.